Many seniors and their families think Medicaid is just health care coverage they enroll in when they turn 65. However, the Medicaid program covers not just doctor’s visits or a stay in the hospital. It can also help offset the cost of a number of long-term care needs. You may hesitate to call a lawyer to help with your Medicaid needs because of the cost or because you think you may not need one.
However, a family law or elder law attorney can guide your family through the Medicaid application process, assist you if a claim is denied, and help you settle any outstanding debts to Medicaid after your loved one passes.
There are several other good reasons to consult with your own elder law attorney when dealing with Medicaid, such as:
1. No Conflict of Interest
If your loved one has been referred by their assisted living or nursing home to another party to help prepare Medicaid documents or to apply for the program, that party may represent both the referring facility and your family member.
When everyone wants the Medicaid application to go through smoothly, there isn’t a conflict of interest. However, many nursing homes prefer that residents pay privately, and most residents prefer that their accommodations be paid for by their benefits.
This creates a conflict of interest if the resident is working with a non-lawyer party that may also represent the nursing home. An elder law attorney hired by your family to facilitate your Medicaid planning only represents you — not the nursing home.
2. Save Money on Long-Term Care Costs
The cost of staying in a New York nursing home can average over $13,000 per month for a private room, so saving money on these costs can really add up. Legal fees to help ensure you receive all the Medicaid benefits you’re entitled to, including covering your nursing home fees, will likely be much less than paying out-of-pocket for the nursing home room.
3. Professional Knowledge and Experience with New York Medicaid Regulations
A knowledgeable elder law attorney understands many of the struggles that older adults have with Medicaid and other concerns that affect the elderly. They can provide insights into how you can best use your Medicaid benefits and achieve other goals, from aging in place to financial planning to preserve an inheritance for children or grandchildren.
A lawyer can also file legal documents on your behalf to protect your assets or appeal a claim denied by Medicaid. Not all elder advisers can provide these services.
4. Peace of Mind
When you hire a lawyer, you can trust them to handle all the legal communication on your behalf. This can include settling any debts with Medicaid after a loved one passes, negotiating your benefits claims, and making sure that your long-term care facility is being paid for properly.
If you are engaged in a dispute with another party, such as Medicaid or the nursing home, your lawyer can take care of the communication with the other party so that your loved one isn’t worried about what will happen or what to say.
Make the Most of Your Medicaid Benefits
Medicaid offers more than just coverage for medical care. There are multiple opportunities for people to use their benefits to pay for long-term care or to have in-home help if they choose to age in place.
With good legal representation, you and your family may find more ways to plan ahead, reduce your expenses, and make your golden years more enjoyable and worry-free.
If you or a loved one are having difficulties navigating Medicaid enrollment or benefits eligibility, consult with a real estate and elder planning lawyer at Merlino & Gonzalez in Staten Island, NY.